Qidni Labs Founder Credits Kidney Foundation's KRESCENT Program
with Setting Career Path

Morteza Ahmadi with prototypeWhen Morteza Ahmadi began working towards his PhD in systems design engineering, he never imagined it would lead him all the way to San Francisco.

Ahmadi started his program at the University of Waterloo in 2009 with a professor who was working on biomedical engineering using nanotechnology. In his second year, a project using silicon nano-filters lead Ahmadi into the world of nephrology, the study of kidneys.

In 2011, Ahmadi was the only engineer in a small group of nephrologists and kidney scientists who received an Allied Health Doctoral Award from the Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training program, or KRESCENT, founded by The Kidney Foundation of Canada. Although Ahmadi had little background in nephrology, his preliminary tests with the silicon filters had already lead him to work on a miniature blood dialyzer.

“By no means was I a nephrologist. I did not know much about the field at the time but I knew the technology and I knew what could be changed. In the two years of the KRESCENT program, I had a wonderful exposure to nephrology and the nephrology community. That’s how I got started,”

Ahmadi flourished with the support of the KRESCENT fellowship and, in 2014, a year after he graduated from both the KRESCENT program and his PhD program, Ahmadi opened Qidni Labs in Waterloo, Ontario. Since then, Qidni Labs has risen to face many challenges and successes, including receiving early support from the Canadian Space Agency.

 “Without the KRESCENT program, I for sure could not be in this field. KRESCENT was a good start for me to understand the problems that had to be solved and to get connected with a really amazing network of nephrologists and kidney scientists who work on solving problems for kidney patients. That helped me in deciding to start a company like Qidni Labs and move this program forward,”

Moving the program forward involved finding an alternative to the filters Ahmadi had been testing during his KRESCENT fellowship. Since the beginning of the company, Ahmadi has worked with his team to focus on creating a reliable and durable filter for an implantable device that he hopes will one day help patients live more normal lives. Now in San Francisco, Ahmadi and the Qidni Labs team recently celebrated the first tests of their artificial kidney prototype in two animal models. The project is still a long way from being tested in humans but the progress in San Francisco brings the team at Qidni Labs a little closer.

Although the days of an entrepreneur creating a medical hardware device are long, Ahmadi says that the support of patients during the project has been an incredible motivator.

“Their support has been wonderful for us. There have been articles about us in the press recently and with each, we receive messages from patients who want to be on the clinical study and we appreciate the support. We hope that we can bring the device to the market to help them out and help them have a normal life,”

Ahmadi and his team are continuing to work towards creating the technology that will help kidney disease patients, a project that begun with Ahmadi’s participation in the KRESCENT program. 

“Without [KRESCENT] I probably would not be doing this now. The mentorship I received during KRESCENT and after has been amazing. It has helped me to move things forward, faster. It is a wonderful program to train scientists, engineers and nephrologists who will all help patients,” said  Ahmadi.

By: Natalie Richard




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